Cognition and MicroRNAs

In a previous blog (Calculating Dementia), I wrote about an online health and lifestyle questionnaire that could predict your risk of dementia over the coming 5 year period. The algorithm behind the questionnaire was based on data from about 50,000 men and women in Canada. However, the algorithm didn’t take into account family history or …

Microbes and Aging

The human digestive tract, primarily the colon, typically contains between 300 to 1000 different bacterial species, collectively known as our gut microbiome. Studies from the last 20 years have repeatedly shown important connections between the composition of our gut microbiome (i.e. the number of different species and the relative quantities of each species) and various …

Let There Be Light

Retinitis pigmentosa (RP) is a genetic disease where cells in the retina called rods and cones slowly die off leading to diminished sight or complete blindness. Rod and cone cells, collectively called photoreceptors, absorb light and convert it to electrical signals. The electrical signals are transmitted through other intermediate cells and eventually pass to retinal …

Dangerous Vocations

Accidents happen. Even in laboratories where safety is a priority they occur despite our best (and sometimes not so best) efforts to keep ourselves and our co-workers protected from injury and disease. Scientists working with infectious agents are particularly at risk even though there are numerous physical and procedural requirements in labs to ameliorate the …

Epigenetics and Stress: “The moving finger writes; and, having writ, moves on.” – Omar Khayyam

There is a well-known connection between early life stress (ELS) and depression that develops in adolescence or the adult years. Individuals with severe ELS suffer from an up to three-fold higher incidence of depression as adults, a risk seen both in humans and in animal models. What has remained mysterious is the mechanism by which …

To Sleep, Perchance to Get Healthier

A good night’s sleep is one of those precious commodities that is often difficult to obtain in our hectic, modern lives. Between work and family, not to mention binge watching your favorite series, getting enough sleep each day can be challenging. We stay up too late, we rise too early, and often we don’t sleep …